This Spin post is brought to you by a production guy who begrudgingly worked the Buzzfest.
Update: More info here.
First off, since I was working this show, I didn't show up late--more like 6:30 a.m. And, by contract, I couldn't miss all of the opening bands. And, I didn't have to pay for beer or wait in those bread-line style queues for a squillion dollar Miller Lite in a plastic cup. Hell, I even scored free Hard Rock food.
Beat that, Spin.
Still, I'm taking a time-out from squeezing the gallons of rain out of my clothes to wrestle with my own internal musical and moral compass: Normally, I'd have happily tossed a few easy words together about the multifaceted nature of being a Mudvayne or Alice in Chains fan in the year...2009. In other words, I'd be all, "Mudvayne fans: Fuck you." And, "Alice in Chains fans: Fuck you."
But what really happened tonight was a royal fucking over of, you guessed it, Mudvayne and Alice in Chains fans. (Even if thousands of you "fans" were chanting "Alice AND Chains" like drunken Italian soccer fans.)
The day began without a hint of what was to come. The early afternoon's quickly swelling audience of mostly shirtless, cargo-shorts owners--clapping, cheering and sounding off like they had a pair--gave no indication of the vile, damnable creatures they would become by nightfall.
The first five bands (Everything That Rocks, Framing Hanley, Cavo, Cage The Elephant and Chevelle) brought what they could to a scatterbrained lineup--the equivalent of throwing a bunch of beer and water bottles at a wall and seeing what sticks. I'm sure that's what 102.9 the Buzz did to come up with such an incoherent bill. But the audience stayed firm and supported each band's efforts to wow, dazzle, or pretend to have fun.
The over-35-and-loving-it ETR men brought their own versions of nothing but L.A. rock jams (The Halen, The Crue, The Guns and Roses), and were followed by expensive haircut hardcore boys Framing Hanley. Cavo, touted to currently have the No. 1 active rock single in America (Really?), confused us all--we didn't know the roadies weren't playing. Cage the Elephant confused even more shirtless drunken middle-aged men with their non-Alice in Chains-ness. I mean, people were there to fist fight over corndogs until fucking Alice melted their faces. Bro.
Then, directly after Chevelle had put the finishing touches on their trite set--and our wills to live--the heavens opened.
The crowd when they were still merely drinking from their bottles.
OK, reality check time: This was an all-metal stage on a floating barge powered by lethal voltages supplied by two diesel generators on land. And of course, this was an outdoor stage, open to the elements, God's will and completely flooded. Now it's time to do some logical thinking. Look at that ticket stub dissolving in your soaking jeans, oh person who paid for this show of all shows. Be still your beating heart: What does it say right there in the King's English? "Rain or Shine," right? Doesn't that mean you'll see your heroes come hell or high water? Not if both arrive on the same stinking horse.
At 7:30 p.m., the skies cried--and so did our production crew. What was going to happen? Under no circumstances could Mudvayne or Alice in Chains play, be electrocuted and die for you, Nashville. I mean shit, they had to get to Detroit tonight. Plus, it's in Jerry Cantrell's contract that rain makes his hair all frizzy. Could these daring bands really pull it out of their collective asses (after they found them) and save the day? Would this crowd, many thousands strong, see these gods among men slay the torrential dragon?
The answer was no. Not Mudvayne. Not Alice in Chains. And no annoucement to the crowd about what was happening. While we were backstage saving the amps, consoles, mics, instruments and high-voltage lines from an insane amount of rain and damage, the acts had to make decisions. The entire production was also ground to a halt when a generator failed, cutting power to the stage.
And guess what? People got pissed. And you know what wet and intoxicated outdoor show-goers do when shit doesn't work? They throw things. It started small, but through chants of "Rain or Shine!" and the always clever "Bullshit!" the audience hurled a hundred bottles of beer, useless water, useful shoes and even eye glasses at Mudvayne's gear. And hit the crew. And yes, you even managed to hit a few Mudvayne members who were back stage waiting for the rains to let them on. Good going.
The bands honored their fans and the show by sticking around. They just didn't know how to dodge projectiles, jeers and unruly weather to bring you what you paid for. By the time 10:30 rolled around, the rain kept coming and the violence had surged to include what seemed to be an arrest for a glass bottle thrower (who hit a cymbal onstage and subsequently, a crew member) and the cops shutting the stage and whole show down.
A shitty situation for sure: Bands couldn't play, the audience couldn't be satisfied. Somebody should have told them what was up. But throwing bottles at everybody's shit? I guess you can't ask much more from Mudvayne and Alice in Chains fans in...2009. If I would, could you?
The crowd at the end of the night.